Sunday, May 26

Andrew Kay: Dines Out

- January 19, 2016

Leave the names of our months alone

Are you as tired as I am of the constant fiddling with the names of months in order to promote some new and supposedly worthy campaign. I wholeheartedly approve of Movember which, forgive me if I am wrong, was the first to do this and did and does it well. It’s not easy for me to really join in as the ‘tache is a pretty permanent fixture on the kay gob, but I admire what they do and have in past years found ways to support this worthy cause. The rest are bandwagoning in a big way and few of the adaptations of the names of months work – Veganuary? Sorry, not for me, not that I have anything against people choosing to be vegan, just the ugly nature of the non-word veganuary.

This month I have been less visible of the restaurant scene, not because I am cutting back but because I am really getting into cooking at home once again. Some of you will have scene my series Cook It! on Latest TV (and if you have not then I want to see a note from your mothers and fathers). Thirteen episodes in total of home cooking that strove to empower even the most nervous of cooks to feel empowered in their own kitchens.
I’m now working on series two which will focus on simple ideas for a variety of kinds of culinary home entertaining, from simple mid-week suppers with friends to celebration parties for up to 20 people. I’m loving the whole process, digging out my old books, notes from parties that I have cooked and re-reading some of my favourite food writers.

As you might imagine I have quite a collection of food books, recipes yes but also food philosophy. I have my favourites too. Few beat the Yorkshire TV Farmhouse Kitchen series for easily achieved classics, mine are so well used that you could boil the pages and make a hearty stock.
New on the shelf right now are two new books that I am pondering with interest. With the still popular cult of street food, The Street Food Cook Book is an interesting volume. For me it is somewhat over designed, too many colours make the ingredients lists and methods on some pages too hard to read, not ideal when the purpose of a cook book should be ease of use in your kitchen. The recipes however are interesting and there are plenty of insights into how to make some delicious and popular dishes. The whole is heavily illustrated with good photography – but to what end? I would much rather have seen clearer design. My edition is a Northern one and features street food vendors from what you softy southerners call “Oop North” and as such it might prove more valuable as a guide book.
Meze Publishing £10

Blood Sweat And Beers, from the same publishers, is far more to my liking. It is better designed with clear ingredient lists and readable methods, it charts the work of the Sheffield based Milestone Group and it really makes me want to visit. Matt Bigland, Stacey Sherwood and Luke French describe their food ethos, methods and dishes from shopping to plate in a clean and appealing manner. I am usually inspired by recipe books rather than a slave to them but there are dishes in here that I will certainly be trying in the very near future. Good design, clear images of the dishes and appealing recipes make this volume stand way above the other.
Meze Publishing £15
Finally this week I raise my hands and confess to something that I would have once though a crime. I have succumbed to tea bags. All my life I have been an exponent of using loose leaf teas and a teapot. I stand by this too, a properly made pot of tea is unbeatable. I do though live alone and a pot of tea is often too much.
When a tin of Williamson Tea arrived on my desk I was somewhat dismayed to find that it was in bags. Needless to say I gave them a try and I have to say that not only is the tea, a classic blend, delicious it is also very convenient and less wasteful – in fact I am sipping a mug of this fine brew right now. I like their ethics too, complete bush to cup transparency from a company that goes back to 1869 is impressive and I will certainly be trying more of their blends in the very near future.
To find out more go to williamsontea.com


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